Meet a honey seller at a farmers market on Saturday who has some local hives. Seeing that I'm a newbie and he was just sitting there, I started talking to him about beekeeping (read, pumping him for info). Well, he told me that he stopped giving his bees ANY medicine because "the price of the meds got so high for me with only a few hives that its just as cheap for me to order a new queen and three pound package if I lose a hive." (Please don't flame me here but I thought it was an interesting way to look at it.) Any thoughts?
I don't buy any chemicals and I don't lose my bees except to insecticides (which happened this summer but not the previous years I've been here). Currently I'm just running small cell and raising feral survivors for mite control.
In 30 years I've never used fumidil.
I used Terramycin the first two years because I was told to, but quit after that and haven't used it for the last 28 years.
In 30 years I only used Apistan for 3. 2 of those years it worked. He last year I used it it did not and all the bees died. I have not used it since and that was about three years ago.
I have never used Checkmite. When I've seen others use it their bees often died out from unknown causes.
I have never used menthol.
I used grease patties for two years and have not used them since.
I used Wintergreen oil for two years and have not used any since.
But I would monitor the mites even with the small cell, and make adjustments as necessary.
But even when they come in on a truck to the local bee supplier and I don't have to pay the shipping I still paid $52 a package this last year. I'd rather keep them alive.
I use FGMO, FGMO with thymol, sugar patties fondant or bee candy or syrup only to help them get going in the spring. I have not used any medications for the past 4 years. I did use mite check for about 3 years then it would not take care of the mites and that was about 5 years ago. I'm basically letting nature give me the bees I need. I know your saying I'm using FGMO but that is only on my production hives and not my nucs. I make the nucs run thru the winter and if they come out alive then I have them replace my older hives. I do this every year and I'm starting to feel like I'm winning.
I must admit that this is not the reaction I expected. As a newbie trying to follow the Beekeeping for Dummies book (no local clubs here), I thought that everyone used meds for about 3 or 4 different potential ailments. It sounds like your anwsers are that you are not using meds either, however, not because packages are cheaper but because the usefulness of the meds are questionable.
If you do nothing about the Varroa mites, your bees will die eventually. SOMETHING could just be natural sized cells, but if you don't do something the mites will take over.
Everything else, I have not had a problem with.
If you get a SBB (Screened Bottom Board) and monitor the mite drop counts and have a plan either for how to keep them from getting high (natural cell size or FGMO would come to mind) or a plan for what to do if the DO get high (oxalic acid would be my first choice to kill a lot of mites. formic acid would also work) then you can probably keep your bees alive. About $5 worth of oxalic acid and $7 worth of old pipes and you can treat 50 hives. And you can use the pipes again. Much cheaper than buying bees every year.
The key word in this hobby is 'KEEPING'.
How are you a beekeeper if you let your bees die out every 1-2 year? Honey harvester maybe but not a keeper.
I hope to get to 'never' using meds (maybe in 30 years), but when I think they are sick I try things to make them better. I am still learning and hope to eventually get to the point that I can examine my hives and know 'exactly' what to do - but that is a ways down the road.
I am currently using FGMO with Thymol every 10 days. I treated with oxylic acid in the spring and will repeat once brood rearing tapers off in late fall. In the spring I am going to start some of my hives onto small cell.
I have learned from Michael, Dee and many others about bees w/o drugs/chemicals on the yahoo email group organicbeekeeping. It can be a bunch of emails - but so much to learn.
I bought my bees from a 20 yr old homeschooled farm girl in Garden City, MO. I got 2 hives of each: 3 frames of brood, 2 frames of honey, bees and the queen. I asked her when was the last time she treated her bees. She was kinda afraid to tell me. Ummm 1 1/2 years ago. She was surprised that I was glad about it. We are in the same bee club too.
So my bees came to live with me about a week after Easter. And I have honey to sell, give away and keep for me and mine. I was told over and over - I wouldn'tbe able to keep any honey my first year. hmmmm.
I have SBB, small cell in the brood/deep boxes. I bought all my stuff before I found this and the organic group. Otherwise I would have bought all mediums! Since I just have the small cell in the 2 deeps per hive, I do have on the queen excluder.
I don't need no stinkin' big bees.
I do look really close at the bees for mites and catch drones wandering around. I haven't seen a single mite on a bee. Lots of junk on the bottom board under the SBB.
When the numbers slack off a bit and I can get into the brood boxes without causing a huge uproar, I will do a sugar roll test. Depending what I find, I might do a grease patty. No honey supers on when I do. That's for sure. Crisco in my honey? Yuk! No thank you!
The grease patties are really intended for the tracheal mites, which you can't see without a microscope. I haven't heard of anyone having a problem with them with small cell bees.
Martha The crisco will never get into the honey. Crisco can be used with Terramycin, pollen and sugar to help boost the brood. It is more of a treatment for tracheal mites than for anything else. If used with sugar and Terramycin then it is used for AFB. The reason you use crisco is to make the patty stay longer in the hive. Plus crisco I think is a natural product being vegetable oil. See
I thought that the crisco would make them clean themselves more - therefore the little buggers would be cleaned off (if any)?
Martha - also gettin' my mites mixed up.
There may be SOME of the grooming effect on the Varroa, but I don't know of anyone using the patties for that purpose. The FGMO emoulsion cords are better for that purpose.
I got set up to use the Oxalic acid as my treatment for mites. Bees surviving in the wild being removed from a church, a house, and a tree are where most of my bees cames from. I started with buckfast bees which are T mite resistant. I was a plumber and had alot of the fittings for Topbarguy's home made vaporizer but wanted to know exactly what my bee med cost would be. I purchased everything to make one vaporizer and the smallest package of OA at lowe's with enough tubing to make 3 or 4 more vaporizers for $22. Buying the copper tubing by the smallest roll was cheaper than buying it by the foot to make 2. I will treat 2 hives for sure and I may do them all since it is so cheap and I will already be out there with everthing.
In short monitor for mites and have your treatment plan ready incase the numbers rise. I have truely natural cell size as most of my bees are not on foundation. So they may do better if on small cell.